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Liberia enrols 1.4M citizens in ‘flawed’ 1st phase biometric voter registration

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Liberia enrols 1.4M citizens in ‘flawed’ 1st phase biometric voter registration
 

The first phase of Liberia’s first-ever biometric voter registration process which saw the enrolment of 1.4 million people has been described by some politicians in the country as largely flawed according to local media reports.

These failures come despite the NEC having organized training for enrolment staff and carried out other material preparations ahead of the activity.

One of the critics of the exercise is popular talk show host in the country Henry Costa who told reporters recently that the exercise was marred by system failures and glaring incompetence of enrolment staff of the National Elections Commission (NEC).

Costa pointed to failure of biometric registration machines, which in many cases, discouraged potential voters to show up for the exercise, reports Front Page Africa (FPA).

Also reported to be an aspirant for a Senate seat during the general elections in October, Costa claimed many citizens who braved the odds trekking to registration centers during the voter registration period sometimes met with disappointing news that the enrolment machines were down.

According to Costa, these failures put to question the integrity of the NEC and so measures must be taken to make up for the shortfalls so as not to disenfranchise some segments of the population.

Costa used his media outing to call for an extension of the voter registration deadline in other to allow all those who are unable to enrol during the official window to catch up.

“The time allotted to conduct the first phase of the voter registration, especially in the most populous county of Montserrado, was very insufficient,” said Costa, as quoted by FPA.

“As we move forward to the second phase of the biometric voter registration exercise, we demand that the NEC do a much better job,” he said, insisting that efforts must be made to address all the failures suffered in the first phase of the process.

At the end of the first phase, NEC Chairperson Davidetta Browne Lansanah said 1,435,209 were registered and a biometric de-duplication process is underway to clean the register.

She gave a summary of how the process unfolded, thanking all those who supported the NEC in different ways despite the challenges. She called on residents of the nine counties involved in the second phase to get ready.

The Phase 2 biometric voter registration begins on 21 April and will run till 11 May.

NEC says 1,015 registration centers will be opened in all the nine counties concerned and citizens of 18 years and above are urged to show up and enlist their names on the voter’s register.

The population of Liberia was estimated at roughly 5.2 million people, with more than 40 percent below the voting age of 18, meaning that the NEC’s registration target is around 3.1 million people.

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